YOU know what it’s like when the fair comes to town. There’s usually about a dozen rides, some tacky stalls and candy floss. Excited expectations are rarely met rather than exceeded.
But if you’re anywhere near Hull this weekend, be prepared for an eye-opener – because one of Europe’s largest and oldest travelling funfairs, dating all the way back to the 13th century, is in town.
Hull Fair had to be cancelled last year because of the Covid crisis – the first time it had been pulled from the city’s calendar in 75 years.
Now it’s back from October 8 to 16, and promises around 300 – yes, three hundred – rides and attractions, with food stalls, and traditional favourites such as palm reading, and a big wheel.
Among children’s rides will be funhouses, helter-skelters and mini versions of roller coasters and waltzers, while adults can look forward to a variety of faster and higher rides offering extra thrills and spills.
Traditional funfair food will include a Bob Carvers portion of pattie and chips (ask the locals, and they’ll put you straight), alongside stalls selling brandy snaps, doughnuts, sweets and candy floss.
It has all been transported to the city by a fleet of huge transporters and HGVs, despite the fuel supply crisis, with an army of fairground workers and drivers involved in setting the site up.
Dating back more than 700 years, the fair has moved around the calendar over the centuries, as well as in duration – and it even sparked a riot in the 18th century.
A charter was first granted for a fair in 1278, and in 1293 Edward I allocated six weeks in May and June for an annual event. It grew and grew, and by the 16th century had become a 16-day spectacular
When changes were announced in 1751, cutting back the festivities by 11 days, a mob took to the streets of Hull to protest. From then, the official date was set as October 11, or the Friday nearest to it.
Over the years the Fair has moved locations around the city, including Nelson Street, Market Place and Park Street, before moving to its present site in Walton Street in 1888.
Although national changes to Covid restrictions have made it possible for the fair to go ahead, additional precautions will be taken wherever possible, including additional cleansing, and creating alternative entrances into the fairground.
Hand sanitiser will also be available for visitors, and all Hull City Council events staff will be encouraged to wear face masks.
Hull Fair runs from Friday October 8 to Saturday October 16 (excluding Sunday October 10). For more details, visit www.facebook.com/hullfair/
For other tourism information about Hull, see www.visithull.org